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מסורת של התחדשות יהודית

Early Childhood Education

The IMPJ works with 45 preschool classes around Israel run by IMPJ congregations in close cooperation with the local rabbis. We offer an enriched Jewish curriculum that combines a pluralistic, egalitarian experience of Jewish rituals with a respect for the lifestyles of Israels secular society.

These preschools provide an alternative to the prevailing choice between religious (that is, Orthodox) and secular (non-religious) kindergartens. The curriculum addresses issues such as social justice, ecology, gender equality, tolerance and human dignity in an age-appropriate fashion and in the light of Jewish tradition and pluralistic values.

The uniqueness of our preschools lies in four of its main characteristics: they are Jewish, Pluralistic, egalitarian and community based:

  • They are Jewish in that every subject, from the changing seasons to the family, is presented through the prism of Jewish sources and stories.
  • They are pluralistic in that they are attended by children from diverse backgrounds, from completely secular to Halachically observant; from families deeply involved in IMPJ congregations to families who had not been inside a Reform synagogue (and sometimes any kind of synagogue) before they sent their child to the pre-school; from native Israeli families and from families speaking English, Russian, Spanish and other languages.
  • They are egalitarian in that young children are encouraged from the start to recognize that boys and girls, and men and women, are equal and can choose what work to do, how to raise their children, and how to live Jewishly based on their personal beliefs and interests, and not on their gender.
  • They are community-based because they operate within and alongside IMPJ congregations, creating constant opportunities to become acquainted with the synagogue, to meet the rabbi, to participate in broader communal activities, and to experience from the earliest age the sense of completeness and stability that comes from Jewish community.

Our preschools are among the few places in Israel where one can find young boys lighting the Shabbat candles, and young girls wearing kippot and reciting the blessing over the wine. On Rosh Chodesh and other occasions, the children go into the synagogue, where the rabbi may show them how we blow the Shofar, light Hanukkah candles and so on, according to the time of year.

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Teacher Training

The Education Department is committed to provide ongoing support and guidance to its educational staff. Seminars and workshops are held throughout the year providing the staff knowledge of Progressive Judaism and professional tools to aid them in presenting it in the classroom.

We hold a national day long conference for all the preschool staff during Hanukka. These meetings strengthen the staffs progressive Jewish identity and sense of belonging and allow them to share and enrich their knowledge and experience.

We also run the Directors Forum, a monthly forum for directors of our preschool programs. During monthly meetings directors study together; discuss educational and administrative issues and problems of mutual concern, and learn from each others experience.

Educational Materials

A Jewish Lifestyle in the Pre-School Is our new Jewish studies curriculum for the preschool. The curriculum is based on IMPJ values of respect, equality, the importance of study, social justice and Jewish peoplehood. The curriculums outlook is that Judaism is an integral part of all areas of pre-school life, and is not a separate area of learning. The curriculum is based around the Jewish calendar and expresses our rich tradition in a way that is meaningful to the children, families and staff. Early-childhood ethical and spiritual development receive special attention in this curriculum through prayers and blessings Shabbat and holiday ceremonies and Bible stories.

Judaism in Pictures is a visual kit we have developed in answer to teachers need for visual images that present a pluralistic, egalitarian and liberal picture of Judaism. It contains 18 color, size A4, laminated pictures in a durable, sturdy folder. The pictures show a woman rabbi and children in our preschools celebrating the holidays, Kabbalat Shabbat, Havdala and prayer. Along with the pictures we have included resources for teachers about the holidays and ceremonies portrayed in the pictures. The explanations include quotes from Jewish texts, blessings, prayers, stories and songs and suggestions for activities with the children.

My Shabbat is a curriculum about Shabbat including information for the teacher, suggestions for Friday in the classroom and Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdala ceremonies. It includes stories, songs, and ideas for activities for children about Shabbat.

Social Justice A curriculum on social justice and social involvement for kindergarten, first and second grades. The curriculum is arranged according to the Jewish calendar. Included are explanations and texts about the connection between social justice and the holidays each month and suggestions for appropriate activities.

Jewish Heroes in the kindergarten - A program about heroes and heroism that was created by Rabbi Kinneret Shirion. It presents a model for teachers on how to bring young children the stories of Jewish heroes and heroines throughout the ages.